The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The following account of killing a bear on Trimble’s Creek in Marion County Ark., was told me by my old friend, Bill Trimble, oldest son of Allin Trimble. Bill Trimble was born in what is now Boone County, Ark., in 1839. He said that one day when he was a little fellow and while a deep snow lay on the ground his father and Charles Coker while hunting on the creek just named struck the trail of a bear that had just passed on. The hunters were on horseback and with the help of the dogs they soon overhauled the bear and while the dogs were baying it the two animated men charged up to the bear on their horses and each one of them shot the bear, but they failed to kill it and the wounded animal went up a tree. The two hunters hastily reloaded their rifles and sent two more balls into its body and the big black creature turned loose from the tree and fell as if it was lifeless. The dogs thought it was dead, too, and stood around it without taking hold of it. My father was afraid It would revive and did not venture up to it, but Coker supposed It was entirely dead and walked up to it. His anxiety to examine the big fat Bruin got the better of him and quicker than it can be told the bear revived and was on Its feet so quick that it came near catching Coker before he could get out of its way. The hunter was greatly alarmed and the dogs seemed greatly astonished at seeing the bear come to life again. My father was so terrified at the imminent danger of his friend that he stood as motionless as a statute. When Coker started and run the bear followed close In his rear and the dogs fell in behind Bruin and pursued him. Mr. Coker was young and active but the odds were against him for he ran up a hill and the snow impeded his progress and the race soon told on him but the man exerted himself to outstrip the wounded animal for the beast was so wrought up with fury that the dogs were unable to bring him to a standstill. My father was powerless to render his friend aid for the present for both rifles were empty. But he reloaded his own gun as fast as he could and hurried on in pursuit of the man, bear and dogs;up the hillside they all went beating down a wide trail in the snow. The race between the man that was leading the way with the bear just behind him was as desperate as well as it was dangerous. The angry beast gave no heed to the dogs and seemed bent on catching one of his tormentors and was just in the act of catching the man and the latter was ready to give up for lost for he imagined that if the bear got hold of him it would kill him in spite of the presence of the dogs. A tree that had been prostrated by a windstorm lay in the snow just ahead of Coker. The treetop lay in the way of the retreating form of the hunter and he was afraid to turn to the right or left to run around it for fear the enraged creature might head him off, but went straight forward and made all the effort In his power to leap over the limbs of the fallen tree which lay low to the ground but his strength was gone and he fell in among the limbs as helpless as an infant. His body was almost buried in the snow. At this critical moment the instinct of the dogs was put to the test. They appeared to understand the dangerous position of the hunter and with one accord they hurled themselves onto the furious animal and brought it to bay In the edge of the treetop and engaged the bear with such vim that the latter was not able to reach his human enemy for he had to give all his attention to the dogs. In the meantime my father had ran up near the ‘bear and placed the muzzle of his gun at a vital part of the animal and shot it dead. After Bruin had fell and they knew he was dead for good Coker pulled his exhausted self out of the treetop and shook off the snow and thanked father for his timely aid in killing the enraged beast and he wanted to hug all the dogs for intervening in time to save his life. Mr. Coker said afterward that he did not intend to be caught in another trap by going up to another bear before he knew it was sure enough dead."

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